“A while back a buddy of mine found this black bear looking overheated and a water bowl in the distance that someone had left. He decided to move it closer and the bear thanked him. He stayed there for a week. P.S.A. Do not approach bears or other wildlife.”
It would seem like common sense not to approach a wild black bear with a bowl of water expecting it to drink civilly but common sense ain’t so common these days. This man came across a what he perceived as an overheated bear and decided to approach it with water bowl in hand. The bear acted as expected as the man entered its personal space and lesson was learned…under no circumstances should you actively approach wild bears:
Black bears (Ursus americanus) are prevalent across North America and are generally shy and non-aggressive creatures. However, it’s crucial to practice black bear safety when in their habitat to prevent potential conflicts and ensure the safety of both humans and bears.
- Awareness and Avoidance: Educate yourself about black bear behavior and habitats before venturing into the outdoors. Stay alert and make noise while hiking to avoid surprising bears. Travel in groups when possible, as bears are less likely to approach larger parties.
- Secure Food and Waste: Store food, cooking equipment, and scented items in bear-resistant containers or hang them from a tree, well away from your campsite. Dispose of waste properly and avoid leaving any food scraps behind.
- Maintain Distance: If you encounter a black bear, give it space. Do not approach or try to feed it. Use binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens to observe from a safe distance.
- Body Language: If a bear stands on its hind legs, it’s not necessarily an aggressive stance. It might be trying to identify a scent or see better. However, if a bear approaches, stands its ground, or displays signs of stress (huffing, smacking lips, swaying), slowly back away.
- Make Noise: If a bear approaches you, speak calmly and firmly. Wave your arms to make yourself appear larger. Clapping your hands or using noise-making devices can also help scare the bear away.
- Carry Bear Spray: Bear spray is a proven deterrent and can be effective in deterring a charging bear. Learn how to properly use it and have it readily accessible.
- Stay Calm: In the unlikely event of a close encounter or attack, play dead by lying flat on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck and your legs spread. This can protect your vital organs. Once the bear leaves, wait a few minutes before cautiously getting up.
Remember, respecting a black bear’s space and following these safety guidelines can help minimize potential conflicts and promote coexistence between humans and wildlife.